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[TROS] Fire Upon Fenwyk

Started by Alan, March 21, 2004, 12:26:29 AM

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Fire Upon Fenwyk
Riddle of Steel Actual Play Report with Commentary

After 5 weeks and four sessions of play, I've finally got the time and inspiration to write up our Riddle of Steel game.  Today, I'm posting the character creation session from the beginning.  I plan to post a new session every few days until I'm caught up.


We have a group of 10 people (all males 29 to 42) who meet on Thursday night at John's (Feng's) house. We generally split into two rpgs running concurrently and try different games every month or two. A given games will last 4-6 sessions. The group shares an email list. I joined the group only 4 or 5 months ago and had not GMed for them before (though I had played with several members in other games).

We all agreed we wanted to play The Riddle of Steel next. John and I volunteered to lead games, which would run about 5 weekly sessions. John proposed an Arabian Knights setting that got enthusiastic response. I got worried that everyone would want to play his game and my first proposal showed my uncertainty: it was a sketch of 4 or 5 brief ideas. But Wil (Rafial) suggested it was better for me to pick a specific one I liked. So I pitched a setting I've been developing:

Where Three Lions Meet

The Grande Duchy of Fenwyk straddles a busy three-way pass through the Iron Tooth Mountains in Weyrth.  Three Lions prowl beyond its mountain gates: the realms of Oustenreich, Cyrinthmeir, and Stahl.  The small alpine duchy has retained independence by manning its natural defenses with determined Fenwykan Pikemen traditionally recruited from the commons.  Fenwyk is also valuable to its neighbors as a neutral mediator of trade  route. Over four hundred years, the Grande Dukes of Fenwyk have played their ravenous neighbors against each other and fostered a stable, prosperous realm.

Atmosphere: Prisoner of Zenda (without firearms)

Earthly Counterparts: Fenwyk: Luxembourg or Liechenstein; Oustenreich: Germany or Austrian; Cyrinthmeir: France; Stahl: germanic or scandinavian.

As Fenwyk is a crossroads for trade and intrigue, there's lots of opportunities for adventure: merchants, spies, diplomats, courtiers, sword tourneys, and sorcerer's moots.  Players can be independants, or they could be part of Fenwykan military, nobility, etc.  


Preparation #1 (Before Character Creation)

I created a new map of the Duchy of Fenwyk, including the information above, plus the political situation: the Grande Duke has died; the Duchy's rules of succession require a year to pass before a council of knights chooses the next Duke; the two likely candidates are vying for position. At this point, I refrained from developing any plot hooks or story lines. I wanted to give players as wide a field as possible.

Session #1 (Character Creation)

We discussed drawing lots to split players among the two GMs. I decided to be brave and let cards fall as they may – I suggested players just choose based on which setting appealed to them. The group split up evenly along these lines.

[Lesson #1: Build it and they will come. A definite proposal gets a better response than fishing for enthusiasm. I've known this for a while, but it was reinforced.]

4 players and 1 Seneschal: Wil (Rafial), Mark, Jon, Dan, and Alan.  All but Jon had played TROS for a few sessions in the past. Wil and Dan had copies of the rule book.

We planned to spend a whole 4 hour session creating characters and then running some practice combats. I wanted to focus on Philosophies and SAs first, but I think that the character creation mechanics triggered conditioned gaming habits. We drifted into the mechanics of character creation and stayed there for most of the session. I think this is an understandable effect for players more familiar with games where "philosophy" is decoration.  We never had time for practice combats.

At the start, I wanted to loosen up any pre-conceptions of whether the PCs should work together or apart – the "adventurer party syndrome." I suggested that characters could be insiders involved with local intrigue or outsiders. I also pushed the idea that characters could start without knowing each other and travel separate story lines. In retrospect, I think I was preaching to the converted. Anyway, my efforts may have contributed to the player choice to create four nearly unrelated characters! Here are my notes from the player's creations:

[Items in square brackets were filled in by the Seneschal at the begging of the second session.]

Edgar (Jon) – Orphan raised by a Fagin-type who beat him, resulting in Major Ugliness. Now in his 20s, he has taken service with a scholar who's searching for religious artifacts. Local to Fenwyk.

Proficiency: Dagger. CP around 10. Skillsets: Thief and ?

Spiritual Attributes:
- Drive to Serve Scholarly Patron [Doctor Aloysius Brock]
- Destined to recover [The Reliquary of Xanar]
- Conscience: bullies

Karnor (Mark) – Grizzled veteran. 50 years old. He has Allies [Brothers of the Great Sword] and is a Light Sleeper.  Karnor has been overlooked for promotion. Sergeant in a religious military order who has become tired of the hypocritical crusades used to garner secular power.  He has sought solace as a layman in the Hospice of the Carmine Order (Hand of Mercy) at the edge of Fenwykburg.

Proficiency: Sword & Shield CP 14. Skillsets: Soldier and ?

Spiritual Attributes:
- Destined to become a Knight
- Faith: Restore the Fairth
- Conscience: Pity the weak
- Drive to defend the faithful

Rene (Wil) – Gifted young man raised in a Fey enclave at the edge of Gelure.  He's come to Fenwyk following a clue to his parents: he has Karnor's name in connection with them.  He's unfamiliar with human civilization and a bit naïve.  He has Volatile Magic and Dependence on Dialog (I think)

Proficiency: ?  Skillsets: Ritual Magic & ?
Vagaries: Glamour, Growth, Banish, Movement, Summon ( & ?)

Spiritual Attributes:
- Drive to discover fate of parents
- Destined to become Uglub's greatest foe or greatest ally.
- Faith
- Conscience

Zeke (Dan) – Escaped from Stahl, where he was imprisioned for both magic and theology, this self-styled prophet, uses his visionary Gift to further the cause of Xanar as he sees it.  He arrived in Fenwyk seeking heathens to convert and faithful to inspire.  He has acquired a patron [Bertram, a young noble associated with Prince Clovis's bid for the Dukal Throne.].Volatile Magic.

Proficiency: Pole Arm (Staff) CP 8; Skillsets: ?
Vagaries: Vision, Growth, Summon ( & ?)

Spiritual Attributes:
- Destined to Bring Faith to Stahl
- Faith in 3 become one
- Drive to convert the heathen

That's it for now.  I'll post a report on Session #2, in a few days.  Meanwhile, I'll ask the other players if they have any comments to add.  Guys?
- Alan

A Writer's Blog:


A few more details on René.  He's got dependency on Gesture, the reason I'm always throwing Dialogue in is to try to get the CN down on spells.  His skill package was Druid/Ritualist (Skill priority F).  In addition to the Vagaries listed, I also have a little bit of Sculpture.  10 in points vagaries, with the highest being Growth & Glamour.  4 points went to Proficiences, in quarterstaff (CP 8).  SP of 12 (Spells of One)/16 (Spells of Three)

My motivation in creating René was explicitly to explore the magic system in TROS.  I was a little worried at first about my character conception that I was creating the classic "turtle" my guy, in that René started very apart from and unattached to the setting.  I'm pleased to see that over the course of play he's become quite embedded in what is going on.

I'd also like to report that I feel validated in my choice to focus on sorcery, since it has been the aspect of the TROS rules that has most impressed me in actual play.  It's quite a turn from D&D style fantasy to be playing a sorcerer who has the potential of world bending magics at his fingertips, but rarely chooses to employ it due to the high personal risk and cost involved.  Excellent stuff.

Oh yeah, and contrary to Alan's assertion, I had not played TROS prior to this campaign, but merely hung around with those who had (guilt by association).


Some interesting characters.

QuoteDestined to become Uglub's greatest foe or greatest ally.

I like that one it has lots of potential for drama, and wiggle room for you and the player.

I like the setting, (It's near my game which is set in Savaxen) and the set up of the year of politcial (millitary too??) manouvering between the ducal candidates is a nice touch.

looking forward to the next instalment.


Looking forward to more!

Wow! two Sorcerers :)
Do you know the Riddle of Hârn? (A Hârnic Story Hour with Game Notes using TROS, continued)

Matt Wilson

End-of-the-evening on Thursdays has gone something like this for the past few weeks:

"How many decapitations did your group end up with?"

"Three. How about you guys?"

"Two, plus a severed arm."

Clinton is missing out.


Hi all,

Unfortunately, too much time has passed since play sessions happened for me to write them up in a useful way.  

So I shall post no more (in this thread).
- Alan

A Writer's Blog: